Going global: International Week links students to cultures of the world

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

Watching Maria Ivanova perform, there is little doubt that she is a natural salsa dancer.

Her black hair, smooth movements and flowing rhythm suggest that she is not just a born dancer, but also possibly a native of a Hispanic country where salsa is prominently taught and performed.

Ivanova, however, is actually from Russia.

“There is definitely a unity within salsa,” Ivanova, a senior in nursing, said. “There are so many countries practicing it now, like Turkey and Russia. Anyone can fall in love with salsa because once you like it, you are instantly hooked.”

The Russian native performed with the U’s Salsa Dance Club during Friday’s Crimson Nights. “Step Outside Your World” was International Week’s final event.

International people naturally gravitate toward learning about other cultures, said Erika Thompson, a graduate assistant in the International Center.

“I think it’s our instinct to learn about other cultures,” Thompson said. “American students find (other cultures) really interesting, too, but you’ll see more foreign students participating because they find more common interests between each other.”

Thompson, who is originally from Germany, took part in International Week’s tearooms, in which students had the opportunity to sample genuine teas and sweets from around the world.

Thompson spent a good amount of time in the Japanese tearoom, where she was taught about the seven different kinds of tea and the proper way to accept and drink tea in Japan.

“Even though I am not from Japan, it’s been a lot of fun learning about the culture,” Thompson said.

Another highlight from International Week was a performance by the Salt Lake Scots at Crimson Nights.

Within the group’s ensemble was Michael Smauldon, a freshman in business who has been a drummer for the Scots for six years.

Although Smauldon is African American, he enjoys participating in the Scottish culture.

“My favorite things about the Scottish culture would have to be the haggis and the music,” Smauldon said. “I think that (playing at Crimson Nights) definitely raises awareness about other cultures.”

International Week gave students a chance to open their minds by learning about several dozen countries and cultures, said Anjali Hammond, coordinator for International Programs.

“What this does is open up your mind just a little bit to other cultures,” Hammond said. “It’s a subtle way to learn because even if your mind has been opened for just a little bit, it has been opened nonetheless.”